The GP40 and GP40-2, Pinnacle of the Four-Axle Geeps
The Electro-Motive Division's GP40 series was the pinnacle of the
builder's four-axle locomotives. Manufactured between the mid-1960s and
mid-1980s the GP40 came in a wide variety of variants, six altogether,
although the original design and "Dash 2" were both the most popular
selling nearly 2,500 examples
between them. By the 1960s railroads were beginning to understand the
usefulness and efficiency of six-axle, C-C locomotives and as such began
to purchase more and more, particularly during the 1970s.
Unfortunately, for EMD, by the time production had wrapped up on the
GP40-2 it was losing an alarming amount of market share to General Electric
and before the 1980s had ended would lose first place and to this day
remains behind GE. In any event, given the relative young age of some
GP40s and the fact that thousands were manufactured many still remain in
service on Class Is and can also be found on both shortlines and regionals. For information about the GP40 series please click here.
Some of the Rock Island's last new locomotives it ever purchased; three GP40s await their next assignments at the yard in Silvis, Illinois during March of 1980. The road will cease to exist in just a few weeks and this power will belong to a new owner.
The GP40 and GP40-2 production run lasted over twenty years beginning in
1965 and ceasing in 1987 (the GP40 was last produced in 1971). The
units themselves were not that different from GP38s and GP38-2s except
that they included some newer technologies; an extra radiator fan,
turbocharger stack and an extra 1,000 hp (rated at 3,000 hp over the
GP38 series 2,000 hp). The GP40 also included features already now
common on earlier models such as
dynamic braking (a system for temporarily employing traction motors as
generators and using the resulting electromotive force to slow the
train), and an airtight hood that kept out dust, dirt and other
particles from reaching internal components.
The "Dash 2" model is distinguished from the original because of its
further upgrades which included things like a newer type of traction
motor blower duct, a modular electronic cabinet system and bolted
battery box access doors. Essentially, as with all EMD “Dash” models,
GP40-2s basically include upgraded electronics and technologies over the
original design. While both the GP40 and GP40-2 offered the same
horsepower rating the former was equipped with EMD's model 645E prime mover
while the latter featured the 645E3C. Interestingly, the GP40 offered a
little better tractive effort (62,500 pounds starting and 54,700 pounds
continuous) than its "Dash 2" counterpart although both were very
similar in this regard.
Alaska Railroad GP40-2s #3008 and #3014 roll past a DPU at Whittier with a passenger consist as the tourist season is in full swing on June 4, 2009. These two Geeps were purchased new by the railroad in the late 1970s.
Also, the GP40 and GP40-2 models were the pinnacle of EMD’s four-axle
locomotives in several ways. First, the design was EMD’s most
successful second-generation locomotive. Combined GP40s and GP40-2s
sold over 2,300 units with the GP40 selling some 1,200+ units and the
GP40-2 slightly less at just over 1,100. Second, the model
effectively ended production of four-axle power as railroads began to
order more and more six-axle units because of their added traction and
weight distribution (meaning that with an extra two axles the
locomotive’s weight was more evenly distributed over the rails causing
less wear on them). Later GP50 and GP60 models were produced but were
only marginally success compared to the GP40 and early series. Today,
virtually all new locomotives ordered are of the C-C, six-axle variety
save for switchers or light duty units.
Grand Trunk Western GP40 #6400 (originally DT&I #400) and GP38-2 #5701 (former MoPac #896) lead an eastbound manifest freight past the beautiful GTW depot in Battle Creek, Michigan during June of 1988. The building still stands today.
It should be noted that there were several variants of the GP40 aside
from the popular "Dash 2". First was the GP40X. This was constructed
using EMD's model 645E prime mover and offered extra horsepower of 3,500. It was built only between 1977 and 1978 with four railroads purchasing 23 examples of the model;
Santa Fe (3800-3809), Southern Pacific (7200-7201, 7230-7231), Southern
(7000-7002), and Union Pacific (9000-9005). The "X" denoted the model
as an experimental and the AT&SF and Southern had theirs equipped
with Blomberg M trucks while the other lines purchased theirs with HT-B
trucks. Another variant was the GP40P built for passenger service and
purchased by the New Jersey Department of Transportation in 1968 for use
by then Central Railroad of Jersey along its commuter lines. It was
three feet longer than a standard GP40 for an added steam generator and
13 in total were constructed. Another passenger model was built by
Diesel for GO Transit of Toronto between November and December, 1966.
The engineer of B&O/Chessie GP40-2 #4101 grabs his orders from the operator at CW Cabin in Hinton, West Virginia during October of 1981. Today, this once important yard is no more and the C&O tower was closed long ago.
They used an SD40 frame and wide cab design, featuring HEP equipment for
passenger service. A total of eight were constructed (numbered
600-607). There are numerous other GP40 passenger models now in service
but these are rebuilds of standard models
and were not cataloged directly by EMD or GMD (they include the
GP40-2H, GP40PH-2/A/B, GP40FH-2, GP40WH-2, GP40-2W, GP40MC, and
GP39H-2). Yet another variant was the GP40P-2 built for the Southern Pacific in
November, 1974. This locomotive was 62 feet in length to accommodate a
steam generator for use in passenger service and also offered 3,200
horsepower and added tractive effort; 64,000 pounds starting and 54,700
pounds continuous. Three were built (numbered 3197-3199). Finally,
there was the GP40-2W and GP40-2LW, built for Canadian National and GO Transit that included the wide cab commonly used in Canada.
You can nearly smell the fresh paint on this pair of Baltimore & Ohio GP40s, seen here resting at Potomac Yard in Arlington, Virginia on January 14, 1972.
were built between December, 1973 and September, 1975. GO purchased 11
GP40-2Ws (numbered 9808-9814 and 707-710) while CN bought 35 of the
model (numbered 9633-9667). Additionally, CN bought another 233
GP40-2LWs (numbered 9400-9632). In any event, GP40s remain as common as railroad spikes out on
main lines across the country and you can spot them virtually anywhere
as they carry all of the classic EMD features. The GP40 and GP40-2
models, along with the GP38 and GP38-2, were EMD’s most successful
second-generation Geeps and like earlier models
fit exactly what railroads were looking for in terms of horsepower
while also featuring the manufacturers’ excellence in quality and